State and local groups fighting a legal battle to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes received a setback when a federal judge on Thursday denied a preliminary motion that would close locks between the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and Lake Michigan.
The order by U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow Jr. in Chicago ends the latest skirmish between environmental and commercial interests over the spread of the destructive non-native bighead and silver carp. Groups that want the locks closed fear the carp could migrate from the waterway to Lake Michigan, destroy natural habitat and ruin a billion-dollar fishing industry.
Opposing them are the barge industry and other industries around Chicago, who argue closing the locks would impede hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cargo that passes through the locks annually.
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox for more than a year has challenged the Army Corps of Engineers to close two locks on the CSSC until the government can find a final solution to the carp. The corps maintains an electrified fish barrier that stops carp from moving toward the lake and is building another unit.
A year ago Cox asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and was turned down. He also challenged the White House to order action. In July, Cox, supported by several other Great Lakes states, cities and Native American organizations, filed suit in federal court in Chicago to seek a permanent injunction against the Corps.
"Our legal fight against Asian carp will continue, but President Obama could stop the spread of Asian carp with the flick of a switch," Cox said Thursday. "Obama's persistent failure to stop Asian carp is a slap in the face to Great Lakes citizens genuinely concerned about preserving their livelihood."
Also on Thursday, Congress passed a bill that will add bighead carp to a list of animals in the Lacey Act that are prohibited from import to the U.S.
-- Contact R.G. Edmonson at email@example.com.